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Ruling party slams parliament speaker on THAAD remark

All Headlines 10:06 September 02, 2016

SEOUL, Sept. 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party continued to protest strongly against the parliamentary speaker on Friday, adding his remark on the controversial deployment of a U.S. missile defense system violated the legal obligation of the office to maintain political neutrality.

"It was a reckless remark that hurts our national interest," Chung Jin-suk, the floor leader of Saenuri said, adding the party will continue to seek the resignation of National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun.

During the opening speech of the regular parliamentary session on Thursday, Chung criticized the government's move to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system that Seoul agreed to host in July.

"President Park Geun-hye plans to meet Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping soon," the party whip said. "What will the president say if Xi asks why South Korea intends to deploy the THAAD system even when the country’s No. 2 elected official opposes it?"

Along with North Korea, China and Russia have been protesting the move, amid concerns that the THAAD system could also have an adverse impact on the balance of power in Northeast Asia.

Since Thursday, Saenuri refused to participate in parliamentary proceedings, adding the speaker must resign and make apologies, casting a cloud over the passage of the extra budget bill along with other issues.

The conservative Saenuri claims the defense system is vital for coping with North Korea's evolving missile threats, while the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea and the smaller People's Party stress Seoul should refrain from taking steps that would antagonize Beijing.

Chung, a six-term lawmaker, is originally from Minjoo, although he left the party after being tapped as the parliament speaker in accordance with South Korean law.

National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun (Yonhap)

colin@yna.co.kr
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